Karela Masala (Bitter Gourd Curry)

Karela Masala (Bitter Gourd Curry)

I am not celebrating the most hated vegetables week. My mom in law is visiting us and I am just trying to make the most of it. I am trying to learn from her the best recipes she makes. Next few weeks you might see lot of gujju stuff on Vegetarian Khana and if you want to see any gujju dish on Vegetarian Khana, do share it with me so that I can ask her to teach me that. It is Karela (Bitter gourd) masala this weekend. People either love Karela or they absolutely hate it. I don’t love it but I love the Karela fry that my mom makes, or the masala Karela that my mom in law and my aunt make. Karela is very bitter, but is eaten a lot in India because of its medicinal value.

To reduce the bitterness of Karela, peel the Karela, cut it into small pieces and discard the seeds. Sprinkle little salt on peeled and chopped Karela and leave it aside for 20-30 minutes. When ready to cook the Karela, wash it under running water and squeeze the Karela to reduce the bitterness.

Remember my mom in law’s signature mixed veg curry recipe? Well, this one uses the same masala. If you have the masala ready, this is a very quick recipe. You can check the recipe for masala here. Adding a little jaggery, adds flavor and helps to reduce the bitterness of Karela.

Make sure to take the curry off from flames as soon as you finish mixing the masala. Cooking it for a long time will make the besan in the masala stick to the pan. This curry tastes good with bajri roti or whole wheat rotis. You can serve this with fresh/pickled onions and the non spicy chillies.

Karela Masala (Bitter Gourd Curry)

Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 1 cup chopped Karela (bitter gourd)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp coriander powder (optional)
  • 4 tbsp mixed vegetable sabji masala
  • 1 tsp jaggery
  • Salt to taste (Remember the masala and the karela already have salt so taste the curry and add salt only if required)

Recipe

Peel the Karela. Remove seeds and chop into small pieces. Sprinkle approximately 1 tsp salt and keep it aside for 25-30 minutes. Squeeze the Karela and throw the water. Wash them in running water and squeeze again.

Pressure cook the Karela with 1 cup water and little salt for three whistles. Once the pressure is released, strain the Karela and discard the water.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add mustard seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add onions, little salt, and turmeric powder. Sauté and cook for 1-2 minutes till the onions start getting brown. Add Karela, chilli powder, and jaggery. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the sabji masala and mix well. Cook for 40-50 seconds and take off from the gas. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with hot roti.

Onion Curry (Pyaaz ki Sabji)

Onion Curry (Pyaaz ki Sabji)

Statutory Warning: If you live in India and buy onion with your yearly bonus these days, wait for the prices to come down before you try this curry.

Once upon a time onions were banned in my grandmother’s kitchen. They slowly made a guest appearance when my mom took over the kitchen. It was a once in a while affair then. Weekend snacks, or special occasions or whenever my aunt visited us from Solapur. As with any other thing that you are not supposed to eat or which is not cooked regularly, onion too was my favorite especially the pyaaz ki pakodi (onion fritters). Things slowly changed, and onion is a permanent resident in our kitchen now. Though used sparingly, the ban is not there anymore.

One of my aunts lives in Solapur. Whenever she used to visit us during vacations, it would be a treat for us as she would prepare all the new recipes she learnt at her in laws place. Most of the dishes she prepared included onions. One such curry was this quick and easy onion curry. Only thing she insisted always (and still does) is to have the hara masala (fresh coriander, curry leaves, ginger and green chillies) for cooking. These fresh ingredients add that special flavor to the curry.

This curry makes a perfect yummy meal for the times when you don’t want to spend lot of time in kitchen and still want yummy food. The coarsely ground groundnuts add crunch to the curry. This curry, tastes best with hot rice. You can eat it with roti too.

Onion Curry (Pyaaz ki Sabji)

Ingredients

Serves 2-3

  • 3 onions chopped (preferably juliennes)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 green chillies slit
  • 2 inch piece of ginger grated
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida (heeng)
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder (dhaniya powder)
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 3 tbsp groundnuts roasted and coarsely ground
  • 1 ½ tsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander (chopped)
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

Heat oil in a kadhai or a thick bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add grated ginger, green chillies, and curry leaves. Tear and crush the curry leaves a little to get more flavor.

Add half of the chopped coriander and sauté. Add chopped onions and salt. Mix well and cook for 2-3 mins or till the onions are translucent. Add, turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, asafoetida, groundnuts, and garam masala. Add little water (approximately 1/4th cup) and mix well. Cook on low flame for 5-6 minutes.

Add lime juice and chopped coriander. Mix well and serve with hot rice.

Mixed Vegetable Curry Gujarati Style

Mixed Vegetable Curry Gujarati Style

This is my mother in law’s signature dish and just like me, almost all my friends love this one. It is a mix vegetable curry with gram flour stuffing and gravy. My mom in law calls is Aakhu shaak (aakhu means whole and shaak is vegetable). This does not involve lot of chopping and cutting. Vegetables are slit, filled with the spice mixture and pressure cooked.

You can make the filling in quantity and keep it in fridge for a month. Once you have the filling ready, this is a very quick recipe to make. Though I have learnt from her to make this dish, I still prefer and make sure to get packs of stuffing made by her.

My mom in law uses Potatoes, Onions, Brinjals, and Green chillies (non-spicy ones) for this curry. Since I don’t like Brinjals, I leave out Brinjals and add Capsicum. As with all the moms, there are no exact measurements for this recipe. All the spices depend on taste. This curry tastes best with rice. You can have it with rotis or hot puris too. The recipe looks long but it is worth the effort.

Mixed Vegetable Curry Gujarati Style

Ingredients

Serves 2-3

  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 1/2 capsicum (cut in big pieces)
  • 2 big green chillies (non-spicy ones)
  • 4-6 curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp oil

For Masala

  • ½ cup gram flour (besan)
  • ¼ cup coriander cumin powder
  • 3-4 green chillies
  • 7-8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 table spoon oil (groundnut oil preferred)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

For Masala

Roast the gram flour on very slow flame for 3-4 minutes. Keep mixing it continuously so that it does not burn. Add the coriander cumin powder, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder. Roast further for 1-2 minutes. Over roasting will burn the gram flour so be careful while roasting the masala. Once the masala is roasted remove it from pan immediately and let it cool.

Make a coarse paste of green chilli and garlic. Combine the roasted gram flour and coriander powder, and rest of the masala ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Taste for spices. You can adjust the chilli powder or sugar based on taste.

For Curry

Peel potatoes and cut them into two pieces and make slits. Don’t cut the potato completely. Create a slit enough to fill some masala. You can check the image above for slits.

Peel onions and make 2 slits. Slit the big green chillies and remove the seeds.

Take little masala; around ¼ tsp and fill the masala into the slits.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pressure cooker. Add mustard, cumin seeds, curry leaves and let them pop. Add the vegetables and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add 3 tbsb masala and water. Close the lid and cook for 3-4 whistles.

Once cool. Open the cooker and put it on slow flame again. Add 3 tbsp of masala. Mix well and check for taste and consistency of gravy. (The gravy should be thick. You can add little water if it is too thick as gram flour tends to thicken the curry). Taste for spices and make adjustments for salt or spices. Cook for 3-4 mins mixing occasionally.

Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with hot rice or roti.

Gatte ki Sabji (Gram flour Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce)

Gatte ki Sabji (Gram flour Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce)

Gatte ki sabji is one of the most popular dishes of Rajasthani cuisine. There is hardly any marwadi family that doesn’t make this curry. Since the climate in Rajasthan is very hot and dry, fresh vegetables are not available around the year. Many Rajasthani recipes depend on dry ingredients like different types of flours, millet, and beans. Gram flour and buttermilk are the main ingredients of this curry.

Gatte are basically cylindrical rolls of gram flour and other spices mixed into a dough and cooked in boiling water. These can be used for making a dry curry or a sauce-based curry like this one.

Apart from the sabji that is made at my home, I have enjoyed this curry the most at Rajdhani in Bangalore. Their saatpadi and gatta are to die for. I like to eat this with rice or hot puris. There is also a dry version of this curry which I will post some other time. For now, enjoy this mildly spicy and tangy curry. Happy eating!

Gatte ki Sabji (Gram flour Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce)

Ingredients

For kadhi

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp gram flour (besan)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida (heeng)
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 green chillies slit
  • 4 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4 cloves
  • Few fenugreek seeds
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • Salt to taste

For Gatte

  • ¾ cup besan
  • 1tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Few carom seeds
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

Combine all the ingredients for gatte and make a stiff dough adding little water. Divide the dough into equal portions and roll them into cylindrical rolls using your palms.

Boil plenty of water and cook gattas till they float on top. Drain and let them get cool. Cut the gattas into approximately 1 ½ inch pieces and keep aside.

Whisk together buttermilk, gram flour, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, asafoetida, and salt.

Heat oil in a kadhai or a thick bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, and fenugreek seeds. Once the seeds pop, add curry leaves, green chillies, grated ginger, and dry red chillies and sauté for few seconds.

Add the whisked buttermilk mixture and bring to boil while stirring continuously otherwise the kadhi will split. Once the kadhi boils add gattas, reduce the flame and cook for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander and serve with rice or hot puris.

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Chole (Chickpeas Curry with Indian Spices)

Chole (Chickpeas Curry with Indian Spices)

Chole, the quintessential dish from north of India is one of the most popular curries in India. This is a curry made with chick peas and Indian spices. As with any popular curries, this too has many names and variations. Chana masala, pindi chole, or Punjabi chole are just a few to name. Chickpeas are known to be rich in fibre and Iron and are a healthy choice as a part of your daily meal.

I learnt this from my Punjabi friend Kriti who doesn’t cook much but when the she cooks its finger licking good J This is when I stopped using the chole masala that is sold in super markets and started relying on fresh ingredients and I just love this version.

Best part about this curry is that it goes well with anything; rice, paratha, puri, bhatura, kulcha or even with bread. I like it as a filling for my sandwich. Try grilling a whole wheat sandwich with this curry and a slice of cheese, you will surely enjoy this high fibre Punjabi sandwich. Here is a slightly modified version of chole that I learnt from my friend.

Chole (Chickpeas Curry with Indian Spices)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chick peas (Garbanzo beans/kabuli channa/chole) soaked overnight and boiled
  • ½ cup coarse paste of boiled chick peas
  • 1 tsp tea leaves (tied into a small muslin cloth to form a pouch/or a tea bag) optional
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Coarse paste of 2 inch piece of ginger, 2 green chillies, and 3-4 pods of garlic
  • 1 onion  finely chopped
  • 1 tomato finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves (optional)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 3 tsp red chilli powder
  • 4 tsp coriander powder (dhania)
  • ½ tsp dry mango (amchur) powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder (cumin seeds roasted and powdered)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 ½ cup water in which chana was boiled

 Recipe

Wash chick peas 3-4 times in running water before cooking. Add salt, tea pouch (if using) and pressure cook the soaked chick peas for 3-4 whistles on a low flame. It should be soft but not mushy.

Do not discard the water in which the chick peas were cooked. Drain the chick peas and keep aside.

Heat oil in a heavy pan. Add cumin seeds, cloves and bay leaves. Add ginger, garlic, and green chilli paste and saute for a min. Add onions and fry for 1-2 mins.  Add tomatoes and little salt and cook for 2-3 minutes or till tomatoes become soft and can easily be mashed with the back of a spoon.

Add red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, amchur, garam masala, and little salt. Mix well and cook till oil separates.

Add 1 cup water in which chick peas were boiled, chick peas and the crushed chick peas paste. Check for salt and seasoning at this point. Cover and cook for 3-4 mins. If you find the consistency too dry add remaining ½ cup of water. Remove the cover and cook on low flame till the gravy is almost dry. Add chopped mint and coriander leaves. Mix well.

Serve with jeera rice, paratha, bhatura, puri or roti.

Mirchi ka Salan (Green Chillies Curry)

Mirchi ka Salan (Green Chillies Curry)

Hyderabadi food is synonymous with Biryani and the perfect match for any Hyderabadi biryani is the mirchi ka salan (Salan means curry in urdu).  This is not a very spicy curry as the name suggests. It is a mix of spicy, sour, and nutty flavors.

Picking up the right chillies is the first important part. Make sure to pick the non-spicy or the less spicy chillis for this curry. You can choose the chillies that you get for mirchi bhajjis or the Bhavnagri chillies.

Second part ofcourse is the gravy. Make sure you roast the ground nuts, sesame and coconut powder on a low to medium flame.

You can serve this curry with biryani, pulav, or even hot parathas. My mother makes this dish without onion garlic hence you will see these ingredients in the optional list.

Mirchi ka Salan (Green Chillies Curry)

Ingredients

  • 4 Long green chillies
  • ¼ cup cooking oil
  • ¼ cup tamarind pulp
  • 2 inches ginger piece grated
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp mustard seed
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste

For Salan Paste

  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp roasted coconut powder
  • 2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds

Optional ingredients to the salan paste list

  • 1 onion cut into thin slices and deep fried
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp roasted khus khus soaked in water for 30 minutes

Recipe

Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Deep fry green chillies. Keep the chillies aside and save the oil in which the chillies were fried.

Finely grind together all the ingredients for salan paste.

Reheat 2 tbsp oil that was used for frying chillies. Add cumin and mustard seeds and let them pop. Add ginger and sauté for few seconds.

Add the salan paste and saute it for few minutes till the fat separates. Ensure that the paste does not stick to the pan. Pour around 2tbsp of water at regular intervals.

Now add the tamarind pulp, water, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, dhaniya powder, and garam masala. Stir for 3-5 minutes until the gravy is of sauce consistency.

Add the fried chillies to the hot gravy. Let the gravy come to a boil. Remove and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with biryani, pulav, or paratha.

 

*Check the Tips and Links section for a Hindi to English translation of the ingredients.

Aalu Matar (Potatoes and Peas Curry)

Aalu Matar (Potatoes and Peas Curry)

Potato is the most versatile of vegetables. It is a staple diet of most of the middle class vegetarians.  You can combine it with any vegetable. This was the most common curry in our lunch box. There was a time when I hated aalu ki sabji. My mom makes at least 8-10 varieties of aalu sabji. Aalu fry, jeera aalu, aalu matar, aalu tamatar, aalu beans, dahi vale aalu and the list goes on. I finally made friends with potato when I went to Cardiff for studies. There were 4-5 variety of potatoes available and I started experimenting with this vegetable.

The food marathon that I went on after my wedding had this aalu matar following me at every house and I again started running from aalu ki sabji. Finally, when I am out of India again Aalu matar has become my friend again.

Aalu Matar (Potatoes and Peas Curry)

Ingredients

  • 2 potatoes peeled and cubed (Russet potatoes are good for this curry)
  • ½ cup fresh/frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • 2 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 2 green chillies finely chopped
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 tomato finely chopped
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Recipe

Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add cumin and mustard seeds. Once the seeds pop add asafoetida, curry leaves, ginger, and green chillies. Sauté for 30-40 seconds. Add chopped onions and cook for 1 min or till the onions are translucent.

Add tomatoes and salt and cook for 1-2 two minutes on a slow flame. Add turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder. Mix well and cook for 1 minute. Tomatoes should reduce to pulp by now and leave oil. Add peas and potatoes. Add 1 1/2 cups water and close the lid and pressure cook for 3 whistles.

Once the pressure is released open the cooker and check the curry for seasoning and adjust salt or spice accordingly. Add chopped coriander and mix.

Serve with hot puri, roti, or jeera rice.